Brunel's campus is located on the outskirts of Uxbridge. It is organised into three colleges and three major research institutes, a structure adopted in August 2014 which also changed the university's name to Brunel University London. Brunel has over 12,900 students and 2,500 staff, and had a total income of £200.7 million in 2014/15, of which 25% came from grants and research contracts.
Brunel College of Technology separated from Acton Technical College in 1957, and focused on the education of engineers. Brunel College of Technology was awarded the status of College of Advanced Technology in 1960 and became Brunel College of Advanced Technology in 1962. In June 1966 Brunel College of Advanced Technology was awarded a royal charter and became Brunel University London. It is sometimes described as a British plate glass university.
Brunel is one of a number of British universities which were established in the 1960s following the Robbins Report on higher education. It is sometimes described as a "plate glass university". The university's origins lie in Acton Technical College, which was split into two in 1957: Acton Technical College continued to cater for technicians and craftsmen, and the new Brunel College of Technology (named after Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the British engineer) was dedicated to the education of chartered engineers.
In 1960 Brunel College of Technology was awarded the status of College of Advanced Technology, and it was decided that it should expand at another site in order to accommodate the extra buildings that would be needed. Uxbridge was chosen to house the new buildings, and construction work hadn’t even begun before the Ministry of Education officially changed the College’s status: it was officially named Brunel College of Advanced Technology in 1962 – the tenth Advanced Technology College in the country, and the last to be awarded this title.
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The royal charter granting university status was awarded on 9 June 1966. The university continued to use both campuses until 1971 when it left the Acton site.
In 1980 the university merged with Shoreditch College of Education, located at Cooper's Hill, Runnymede. This became Brunel's second campus. In 1995 the university expanded again, integrating the West London Institute of Higher Education, and adding campuses in Osterley and Twickenham. This increased the number of courses that Brunel University was able to offer. Traditionally the university's strengths were in engineering, science, technology and social sciences but with the addition of the West London Institute, new departments such as arts, humanities, geography and earth science, health and sports science were added, and the size of the student body increased to over 12,000.
Brunel has been the subject of controversy as its approach to higher education has been both market-driven and politically conservative. The decision to award an honorary degree to Margaret Thatcher in 1996, following the University of Oxford's refusal to do so, provoked an outcry by staff and students, and as a result the ceremony had to be held in the House of Lords instead of on campus. In the late 1990s, the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Materials Engineering were all closed, and, in 2004, the then Vice-Chancellor Steven Schwartz, initiated the reorganisation of the university's faculties and departments into schools, and closed the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences. The succeeding Vice-Chancellor, the sociologist Christopher Jenks, took office in 2006. and he was followed by Julia Buckingham, previously at Imperial College London, who took up the position of Vice Chancellor at Brunel in October 2012.
In the late 1990s Brunel devised a 10-year, £250 million masterplan for the campus. This involved selling off campus sites at Runnymede, Osterley and Twickenham and using the revenue from the sales to renovate and update the buildings and facilities on the Uxbridge campus. Works carried out included a library extension, a state-of-the-art sports complex, renovated students' union facilities, a new Health Sciences teaching centre, and the construction of more halls of residence.
The Brunel campus (especially those buildings in the 1960s 'Brutalist' architectural style) has appeared in several films, most famously in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, large parts of which were filmed on campus. It has also featured in several UK television series including Spooks, Silent Witness,The Sweeney and Inspector Morse.
Brunel has three constituent Academic Colleges:
Research at Brunel has been organised into three institutes:
The governing body of Brunel is the Council, which comprises university staff and students and independent members. The Council appoints the Vice-Chancellor and other senior officers. The Council has a number of Committees which support its work.
The current Chancellor of the university is Sir Richard Sykes, a biochemist and former Rector of Imperial College London. The Vice-Chancellor since 2012 is Julia Buckingham, formerly Professor of Pharmacology at Imperial College.
Brunel's academic governing body is the Senate, which is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor. The Senate has a number of Committees which support its work.
In the financial year ended 31 July 2011, Brunel had a total income (including share of joint ventures) of £178.5 million (2009/10 – £169.47 million) and total expenditure of £172.36 million (2009/10 – £163.79 million). Key sources of income included £69.83 million from tuition fees and education contracts (2009/10 – £64.51 million), £55.92 million from funding body grants (2009/10 – £57.55 million), £14.81 million from research grants and contracts (2009/10 – £12.57 million), £0.65 million from endowment and investment income (2009/10 – £0.6 million) and £37.29 million from other income (2009/10 – £34.25 million). During the 2010/11 financial year Brunel had a capital expenditure of £18.8 million (2009/10 – £6.63 million).
At year end of 2011, Brunel had endowment assets of £2.01 million (2009/10 – £1.59 million), reserves of £140.31 million (2009/10 – £130.83 million) and total net assets of £177.46 million (2009/10 – £170.2 million).
The Brunel Coat of Arms was granted to the University in 1966 and incorporates various images representative of the University's heritage and principles. For example, the masonry arch symbolises Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the compass and cogwheel symbolise technology, the ermine lozenge is an allusion to the Arms of Lord Halsbury, the first Chancellor of the University, and the crest of the swan symbolises Uxbridge.
Brunel students have access to specialist laboratories for electronic imaging, bioprocessing and experimental techniques; flight, driving and train simulators; a 3-D body scanner; an MRI scanner; motion-capture equipment; an occupational therapy suite; sports and performing arts facilities; and academic archives in cult film and contemporary writing.
Depending on the degree course followed, many undergraduate students may choose to undertake practical placements and projects as an integral part of their courses (a founding principle of the sandwich degree structure).
Courses at Brunel draw on staff's research in areas including Cancer Genetics, Environmental Science, Human-Centred Design, Materials Processing, Contemporary Music and Digital Performance, Children’s Education and Sports Medicine.
Brunel's Department of Design holds a yearly design exhibition called Made In Brunel, to promote and showcase the work of final year students to the design industry. In past years it has been held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, and the Oxo Tower Wharf. From 2011 onwards the exhibition has been held at the Bargehouse, on the Southbank, London.
British Government assessment
|Teaching Excellence Framework||Silver|
In the 2014/15 THES world university rankings, Brunel ranked 226-250 (shared), representing a sharp rise in rankings. Brunel is ranked as the 93rd best university worldwide in the field of engineering and technology, 32nd among European institutions and 11th among British institutions according to THES world rankings.
In August 2014, Brunel re-entered the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) Shanghai Jiao Tong Rankings after a four-year absence at number 409 globally, and 34 in the UK.
Also, in 2015 Brunel was ranked 25th in Times Higher Education's 100 under 50 ranking of the top 100 world universities under 50 years old.
The University won the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2011.
Brunel performed well in the annual rankings of UK universities produced by The Guardian and The Times, in part due to its strong performance in the Teaching Quality Assessment (where Brunel received a score of 20/24 or better for every subject assessed). The Guardian and The Times ceased using the TQA to compile their rankings (they use the National Student Survey results instead) and therefore Brunel had fallen in both rankings. However, the university regained its league position in 2012 partly due to improved student satisfaction and spending on students. As a result, it was ranked 39th in the Sunday Times University Guide. In the 2013 Guardian University Guide, the university's national ranking rose to 44th.
Brunel has a gym, spa, and running track with professional training and medical facilities. Other facilities include computer suites and recreational buildings for films. On campus there is also a pharmacy, a shop, two bars, a nightclub called Academy, and a café.
Among other services, the Union runs three venues on the Brunel campus: the Academy nightclub, Loco's bar and Subway.
The Union is led by fourteen democratically elected staff from the student body - six Student Officers, four Standing Committee Chairs and six Working Group Chairs - supported by over thirty professional staff.
Radio Brunel is the student-run university radio station. It first went on the air in the 1970s. Originally broadcast via the radiators in halls bedrooms, moving room to room like a pirate station, they settled in the ground-floor of Chepstow halls in 1979. After flirting with AM and FM broadcast systems with 30-day FM licenses for a number of years it ceased broadcasting due to lack of funding. In 2006, the station was relaunched under the name Radio Brunel. Today, Radio Brunel now functions as an online-only radio station, broadcasting both on and off campus. In 2014 Radio Brunel was re-launched by the Union's Media Association under the Bru-Media banner. Bru-Media conglomerated Radio Brunel alongside two other branches of student media funded by the Union of Brunel Students: Le Nurb (newspaper) and Video Brunel.
The station features a variety of music and talk shows.
Le Nurb is Brunel University's official student newspaper, previously a magazine called Route 66, named after the different campus locations Runneymede, Osterley, Uxbridge and Twickenham, not after a bus route which supposedly ran through Brunel's campus along Cleveland Road with. The newspaper editorial team is made up of volunteer students and is funded by the Union of Brunel Students. Traditionally, the newspaper has held a left-wing bias and has published interviews with prominent political figures including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, a Brunel alum and MP for Hayes and Harlington.
Brunel was one of the first UK universities to enter the Formula Student engineering competition, an annual event in which universities from around the world compete in static and dynamic events using formula style racing cars designed and manufactured by students. Brunel's Formula Student teams have won prizes in the annual competition every year since they first entered in 1999.
The Brunel Racing team is composed of undergraduate and postgraduate students, each being allocated an area of the car to develop. Students on MEng Mechanical Engineering courses act as team leaders and manage BEng students throughout the year to ensure a successful completion of a new car each year. Brunel Racing were UK Class 1 Formula Student Champions in 2002, and were the leading UK team at Formula ATA 2005, the Italian Formula Student event. In 2006 Formula Student Event, Brunel Racing were also the highest finishing UK competitor using E85 (fuel composed of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol.)
Brunel’s £250 million campus redevelopment programme, completed in 2008, refurbished existing halls and the built the new Isambard Complex. There are now 34 self-catering halls of residence on-campus, with a total of 4,549 rooms, including studio flats for co-habiting couples. Rooms are available for undergraduates, postgraduates, students with disabilities and co habiting couples. All rooms have network access.
Many of the halls of residence around the Uxbridge campus are named after bridges that Isambard Kingdom Brunel either built or helped to design; other halls are named either after him, or after other notable engineers or scientists. For example:
There are also three accommodation complexes: the Bishop Complex (Bishop, Kilmorey, Lacy and St Margaret’s Halls); the Lancaster Complex (Lancaster, Stockwell, Southwark, Borough Road, Maria Grey and Gordon Halls); and the Isambard Complex (North, Meadow, Michael Bevis, Concourse, Stephen Bragg, West, Maurice Kogan, David Neave, Central, East, Runnymede, George Shipp, Trevor Slater, Shoreditch, Syd Urry, South and Brian Winstanley Halls).
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